Lehigh Gorge State Park
A deep, steep-walled gorge carved by a river, thick vegetation, rock outcroppings and waterfalls characterize Lehigh Gorge State Park. In Luzerne and Carbon counties in eastern Pennsylvania, the park follows the Lehigh River from the outlet of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Francis E. Walter Dam at the northern end, to the town of Jim Thorpe at the southern end of the park. Whitewater boating and biking are popular activities.
The 6,107 acres of park land follow the Lehigh River from Francis E. Walter Dam in the north to Jim Thorpe in the south. The Lehigh Gorge Trail follows over 20 miles of abandoned railroad grade along the river, providing opportunities for hiking, bicycling, sightseeing and photography. The trail is closed to motor vehicles.
Parking areas are provided in White Haven, Rockport and Glen Onoko. Very limited parking is available at Lehigh Tannery but boat launching is prohibited.
Fishing: Fishing in the river and streams is permitted during seasons established by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The northern section of the Lehigh River is stocked with trout and is most popular with anglers. Approved trout waters stretch from the Francis E. Walter Dam to Sandy Run. Whitewater boating north of White Haven is discouraged to promote this section for fishing activities.
Complete information on fishing rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site.
Hunting and Firearms: Most of the park is open to hunting, trapping and the training of dogs during established seasons. Common game species are deer, turkey, bear and small game. The park also provides access to state game lands 40, 141 and 149, which adjoin the park.
Hunting woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, is prohibited. Dog training is only permitted from the day following Labor Day through March 31 in designated hunting areas. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Pennsylvania Game Commission rules and regulations apply. Contact the park office for ADA accessible hunting information.
Use extreme caution with firearms at all times. Other visitors use the park during hunting seasons. Firearms and archery equipment used for hunting may be uncased and ready for use only in authorized hunting areas during hunting seasons. In areas not open to hunting or during non-hunting seasons, firearms and archery equipment shall be kept in the owner's car, trailer or leased campsite. The only exception is that law enforcement officers and individuals with a valid Pennsylvania License to Carry Firearms may carry said firearm concealed on their person while they are within the park.
Complete information on hunting rules and regulations in Pennsylvania is available from the Pennsylvania Game Commission Web site.
Hiking: 33 miles of trails
The recently added Bald Mountain property is open to hunting and hiking only. The seven miles of hiking trails are not marked or signed, pending the completion of the environmental review and long-term planning. Only experienced hikers should hike this area and should carry a topographic map and a compass or GPS unit, and know how to use them.
The gorge is a natural area that possesses natural hazards like steep and treacherous terrain and fast-moving water. You are responsible for your safety and that of your family. Wear proper hiking shoes and use caution when hiking in the gorge.
Biking: 26 miles of trail
Proposed Recreational Development: Future recreational development in Lehigh Gorge State Park will improve opportunities for public access to the Gorge and Lehigh River while protecting the natural resources and maintaining a high quality recreational experience. Trailhead facilities such as parking and comfort stations will be upgraded in the vicinity of White Haven, providing support for the park’s recreational activities.
Explore the Winter Report for the current snow and ice depths.
Cross-country Skiing: The Lehigh Gorge Trail on the west side of the river from White Haven to Glen Onoko is open to cross-country skiing.
Snowmobiling: The 15-mile section of the Lehigh Gorge Trail from White Haven to Penn Haven Junction is also open to snowmobiles. Parking for snowmobiling is at the White Haven and Rockport access areas.
Environmental Education and Interpretation
A wide variety of environmental education and interpretive programs are offered year-round. Through hands-on activities and guided walks participants gain appreciation, understanding and develop a sense of stewardship toward natural and cultural resources.
Explore the Calendar of Events for a listing of events from today forward.
Explore environmental education and interpretation for more information.
Access for People with Disabilities
If you need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability, please contact the park you plan to visit.
River corridors are natural transportation routes and so the Gorge has a great diversity of plants and animals. Great blue herons, mergansers, kingfishers and beavers are common river residents. In summer, the Lehigh Gorge Trail is a great place to see snakes, fence lizards and warblers, especially black-and-white and magnolia warblers.
Settlement was sparse during the 19th century until loggers arrived and began felling trees and building sawmills. Famed naturalist and painter John James Audubon visited the area in 1829 and spent six weeks painting birds. He was distressed at how quickly trees were cut and shipped down river. The industrial revolution was just beginning in the area.
The discovery of anthracite coal at Summit Hill in 1791 caused intensive development and settlement of the upper Lehigh Valley. In the early 1800s, the need to transport increasingly large quantities of coal to markets down river led to the intensive development of canals. Between 1835 and 1838, a series of dams, locks, and canals was constructed by Josiah White and the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company.
White constructed 20 dams and 29 locks over the 26 miles between Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe) and White Haven. Five and one-half miles of canal were also built. It was called the Upper Grand Section of the Lehigh Canal because the locks and dams were larger and far more impressive than the locks of other canals.
When severe flooding in 1862 destroyed the canal system, it was replaced with the new technology of railroads. Remains of locks, dams and towpath are still evident in the Lehigh River Gorge.
Loggers continued to clearcut the huge white pine and hemlock trees for lumber and for the bark, which was used to tan hides. In the 1860s, the second largest tannery in the United States sat on the banks of the Lehigh River at the small town of Lehigh Tannery.
A terrible forest fire swept through the Lehigh Gorge area in 1875, burning the remaining standing timber, many sawmills and stockpiles of lumber. The sawmills closed and the loggers departed.
At the turn of the 20th century, railroads popularized the southern end of the park at a resort called Glen Onoko. Hotel Wahnetah boasted 47 rooms, a dance pavilion, tennis courts, fresh air and hikes to the scenic Glen Onoko Falls. A fire in 1911 closed the hotel and a fire in 1917 ended the resort era.
In the 1970s, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania began purchasing park lands and in 1980 the land was turned over to the Bureau of State Parks.
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We love when young people ask us how to get involved!
DiscoverE has programs for young people ages 4 to 17, provided by Pennsylvania State Park educators. By combining recreation and education, we hope to motivate children to learn more and return often, leading to a lifetime of outdoor enjoyment and conservation leadership.
In Watershed Education, teachers and students assess water quality of a local stream on a quarterly basis and develop strategies to solve local water quality problems.
ECO Camp - Exploring Careers Outdoors - is a week-long residential camp for a cross-section of high school youth from across Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). Participate in action-packed, hands on activities and recreational adventures in Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests that expose youth to conservation, recreation and careers in natural resources. Learn how people make a living working in the outdoors.
Explore education for more information on these and other programs.
Explore the Calendar of Events to find a program near you.
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Lehigh Gorge State Park
Information on nearby attractions is available from:
Exploring Audubon's Lehigh Autotour
Lehigh Gorge State Park and nearby Hickory Run State Park are featured in a unique auto tour entitled Exploring Audubon’s Lehigh. The tour focuses on famed naturalist John James Audubon’s 1829 visit to the Rockport area of the Lehigh River Valley and looks at the valley’s natural and historical landscapes. Brochures and CDs are available at several locations along the 53-mile route. Signs mark the route and identify tour stops. The tour begins in either Jim Thorpe at the Old Mauch Chunk Landing, or in White Haven at the Lehigh Canal Depot. www.audubonslehigh.org.
Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor
Lehigh Gorge State Park is in the Audubon's Lehigh Reach of the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor. The Corridor stretches more than 150 miles from Wilkes-Barre to Bristol, in eastern Pennsylvania, and follows the historic routes of the Lehigh & Susquehanna Railroad, the Lehigh Navigation, and the Delaware Canal. The Corridor showcases the extraordinary natural, cultural and recreational resources and works in partnership to conserve the heritage and enhance the quality of life for its many residents. Corridor landings (visitor centers) are available throughout the region to direct visitors to many opportunities that tell the stories that make the region so nationally significant. www.nps.gov/dele
White Haven Walking Tours
A local historian leads walks along the canal. www.whitehavenwalkingtours.com
Maps and Downloadables
Below are many of the maps and publications for this park. You can read them or download them and might need special software (all free) to view the publications.
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Alternate versions of the text of the brochures are in rich text and text formats. Click on the files to view them. To download (.rtf) files:
White Haven is the northern access area and can be reached off Exit 273 of I-80. Follow PA 940 east, being sure to take a right turn at the stop sign in White Haven. Just after crossing the railroad tracks turn right on Main Street and after a sharp, descending left curve bear right to the state park access area.
Explore the White Haven Area map (.pdf) (526 kb, 9/12).
Rockport is the central access area and can be reached from the south by following US 209 south from Jim Thorpe to PA 93 north. After six miles, turn right onto Brenckman Drive to the town of Weatherly. Continue through Weatherly then turn right onto Lehigh Gorge Drive. Turn right onto Rockport Road. Rockport is accessible from the north from Exit 273 off I-80. Follow PA 940 west for one mile then turn left onto Lehigh Gorge Drive. At the village of Rockport, turn left onto Rockport Road.
Explore the Rockport Area map (.pdf) (1,103 kb, 9/12).
Driving Directions from Rockport to Glen Onoko
Glen Onoko is the southern access area and may be reached by taking Exit 74 of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Follow US 209 south to Jim Thorpe. Then take PA 903 north across the river. At the stop sign, continue straight--leaving PA 903 which bears to the right. Turn left at the entrance to the park.
Explore the Glen Onoko Area map (.pdf) (697 kb, 9/12).
Driving Directions from Glen Onoko to Rockport
Lehigh Gorge State Park